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South Korean services account deficit nears record-high on falling tourists

Staff Writer |
South Korea's services account deficit neared a record-high figure in March due to the falling number of tourists, central bank data showed.

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Current account balance, the largest measure of capital flow in and out of the country, posted a surplus of 5.93 billion dollars in March, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK).

The balance stayed in the black for 61 months since March 2012, but the surplus was down 2.5 billion dollars from the previous month.

Affected by the lower tourists, the services account deficit reached 3.27 billion dollars in March, more than tripling a 0.92 billion-dollar deficit tallied a year earlier.

The March deficit in the services sector came close to the all-time high of 3.36 billion dollars in deficit registered in January.

For the first three months of this year, the services deficit reached 8.86 billion dollars, the biggest quarterly figure in history.

The travel account deficit was 1.35 billion dollars in March, the largest since July 2015 when the country was hit by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak.

The transport sector deficit increased from 50 million dollars February to 620 million dollars in March, the highest ever recorded by the country as the shipping industries slumped on faltering global trade.

The current account balance for goods logged a surplus of 9.8 billion dollars thanks to fast increase in exports, which account for about half of the South Korean economy.

The exports expanded 12.8 percent over the year to 50.38 billion dollars in March, with imports surging 27.5 percent to 40.58 billion dollars on the back of higher crude oil prices.

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